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Max Verstappen wins Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton out on first lap

Max Verstappen wins the Belgian Grand Prix from 14th position on the grid after Lewis Hamilton retires on the opening lap at Spa.

Max Verstappen has further extended his head in the Drivers’ Championship after moving through the field to win the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was one of eight drivers to make changes to their engine, resulting in 14th spot on the grid rather than pole after he had qualified as the quickest driver.

However, Verstappen transferred Saturday’s pace into Sunday’s Grand Prix, managing to take the lead as soon as the 12th lap.

From that point onward, the 2021 champion never looked like relinquishing his position at the front as nearest rival Charles Leclerc struggled for points.

Verstappen eventually finished 18 seconds clear of teammate Sergio Perez, who collected valuable points in the constructors standings ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr.

In collecting his ninth victory of the season, Verstappen now sits 93 points clear of Perez, with Leclerc down to third after only finishing in sixth spot behind George Russell and Fernando Alonso.

Speaking after the race, Verstappen said: “It was quite a hectic first lap to try and stay out of trouble. So many things were happening in front of me, picked the right places to pass people, looked after out tyres and that’s how we made our way forward and once we were in the lead, it was all about managing everything but this whole weekend has been incredible.

“It’s been a weekend I couldn’t have imagined before but I think we want more of them and we’ll keep working hard.”

Verstappen would have relieved to have been well away from the drama ahead of him as Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire on the opening lap.

The British driver and Alonso were squabbling for position, but Hamilton appeared to give his former teammate little room as he attempted to overtake on the outside.

In the corners that followed, Hamilton began to lose speed, the damage underneath his car resulting in a request from Mercedes to withdraw from the race.

At the time, Alonso described Hamilton as “an idiot” on the team radio, with Hamilton acknowledging that he was to blame for the incident.

The retirement was Hamilton’s first of the season and he is now 24 points adrift of fifth-placed Russell in the standings.

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